This article was inspired by the topic of the EFIL seminar on „Transversal competences for global employment”, which will take place October 21-26, 2014. in Antwerp, Belgium.

The author, Viktória (Vica) Bedő, is an AFSer without a classic AFS exchange programme experience, who met non-formal education in 2010 and fell in love with it immediately. Former AFS Hungary staff member, she currently lives in Strasbourg where she continues her volunteer involvement in AFS France, AFS Hungary and the EFIL EPOT. Fun fact: While preparing for the seminar as a preparatory team member, she is looking for a job by highlighting her non-formal education background!


When they announce a job vacancy at your company, and you are the responsible for choosing the new colleague out of 10, 100 or even 1000 candidates, trust me, you should keep these in mind.

Think twice before you hire the candidate with non-formal education background,

… because her CV and motivation letter is not as easy to read as the ones of the other applicants.

She uses quotations in the resumé, highlighs the exchange programme, writes the word “intercultural” and “interpersonal” in every second row. Out-of-school educational experiences are directly related to the job, but university degrees are just mentioned with small letters. In the main part of the CV she lists at least five personal development trainings and several voluntary work experiences, and even writes down what she learned there and how it was used “in real life”.

When you have the motivation letter in your hand you can not run through it as you do with the others, because it’s more a passionate short story than an advertisement for the applicant. You just can’t put it down till you read every single word, because her life has been so interesting.

because when you ask about work experience, she tends to forget to mention the non-paid ones. The voluntary work and the active participation in communities (neighbourhood, school, etc.) are so much a part of her personality and everyday life, that many times she is not even aware how much you learn from it and how rare it is to take action for a positive change.

because soon she will know much more about the colleagues than you do. She is so great in socio-adaptation, that as soon as she arrives, she turns towards the co-workers with an extroverted attitude and joins the team not just on professional, but on personal level as well. After a short time, thanks to her intercultural competences, she will know the needs and feelings of the colleagues, so she can be a better team player than anyone else.

because she simply handles life easier than the others. In stressful situations, when everyone has a high blood pressure, she doesn’t freak out. She goes to the flipchart, involves everyone in drawing a mindmap about the different solutions and possible conclusions. By listening to worldmusic on her mp3 player for 30 minutes, she provides you with different possible action plans.

because she is not satisfied with just having a paycheck at the end of the month. She needs regular feedback on her work, because she is a lifelong-learner. She also needs space to share her ideas for improving your company. She is not fine with getting her „to do” list for the day, but she would like to know the realities, aims and perspectives of her employer. If she wants to work with you, it’s because she shares your values.

because she is the one who will not fit automatically in the well designed hierarchy of your company. She has high self-esteem and she will consciously look for the possibility to move forward. Not because of money or power, but because of the motivation for personal growth. She has a high level on perspective taking so when you give her a task, she may not just complete it, but based on several points of view, she will propose you different solutions for the different target groups. This is the way for her to grow, not to get a bigger office with a view.

So think twice before you hire the candidate with non-formal education background, because it’s a challenge for your company. But if you want to have a motivated, colorful, solution-focused, social, interculturally competent member in your team, don’t hesitate to give her a positive answer.

And if you happen to have her in your team, be a leader, not a boss!